Summary: Here's a sermon to preach before Halloween that has nothing to do with witches, ghosts, and goblins.
Have Faith Like Linus!
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
13but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
15while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
16For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of
Egypt, led by Moses?
17Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who
sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?
18And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those
who did not obey?
19So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
Next Saturday is Halloween.
One of my favorite TV programs this time of year is
"It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown".
The Peanuts cartoon special is broadcast every year
before the arrival of Halloween.
The late Charles Schulz who created the Peanuts comic strip
was a Christian who often used his work
to present his faith.
In 1965, Presbyterian minister Robert Short wrote a book entitled
"The Gospel According To Peanuts".
The book was a best seller and sold over 10 million copies.
A sequel, "The Parables of Peanuts", was written by Short in 1968.
In that book, Short says, "This contemporary case for vigorous Christian faith ---- profusely illustrated by Charles Schulz's delightful Peanuts cartoon strips ---- sheds more light on the Christian faith and how it is to be lived than many more "serious" theological works, with hundreds of cartoons featuring your favorite Peanuts characters Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, And of course, Snoopy."
Stephen Lind wrote a book entitled, "A Charlie Brown Religion'
where he reveals the spiritual life and work of Charles M. Schulz.
So today I'm going to preach a sermon for Halloween
using "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown"
as a parable to present Biblical truths.
Point #1. Like Linus, we are surrounded by people who persecute us for our faith.
From the very beginning
Christians have been persecuted for their faith.
The Romans tried to prevent the spread of Christianity.
Hebrews 11:36-37 tells us,
Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented--
An estimated 2 to 4 million died over a period of 300 years.
During the Dark Ages
an estimated 50 million Christians died for their faith.
When the communists seized China
about 1 million Christians were slaughtered.
On other parts of the world,
Christians are still being killed for their faith.
We know of a couple of instances here in our country
where gunmen shot to death
people who admitted to being Christians.
Jesus said we should expect persecution.
Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Have you, as a Christian, ever been persecuted?
If not, why not?
If you have, how did you respond?
Jesus said, "rejoice!"
If you live a life of faithfulness to the Lord...
If you live a separated life...
If you profess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
and that people need to be saved from their sins,
you WILL suffer persecution.
But there's promised blessings!
Romans 8:18 says,
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Let's get back to our story of
"It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown".
We see the Peanuts gang going door-to-door Trick-Or-Treating.
Charlie Brown costumed as a ghost wears a bed sheet
which has numerous holes cut into it.
He explains, "I got a little carried away with the scissors".
the kids receive assorted candy, apples, gum,
cookies, money, and popcorn balls --
except for Charlie Brown.
For some reason,
Charlie Brown wearing is given a rock at every house they visit.
Point #2. Like Charlie Brown, Christians often receive unfair treatment.
A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart.
2But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped.